Our number is almost up! In Galicia, they have begun vaccinating people from 50-59. That is exciting news for us and long overdue. We expect to receive the text any day now to go to a vaccination centre to get the jab.
Last night, we had dinner at my friend Concha’s restaurant. Her husband, Fran, got the jab over a month ago. She got it last Wednesday at the big mass vaccidrome in Santiago. Concha is a one woman vaccination Evangelista. She speaks to each customer about it and asks them if they are planning to get it.
‘It is our duty to each other and to humanity! If you don’t get it when they offer it, you are spitting in the eye of those poor people in India!’
I love her enthusiasm.
‘It was not problem! I waited 10 minutes, they gave me the shot, I waited 15 minutes after, and then I came home. I was tired all day. But now? Nothing. I got the Pfizer.’
We were so happy to hear this. She is 57. ‘Kelli, you will get the text any day now.’
P.S – She felt bad about my hair and recommending that salon. I got another ‘Uf’ when she saw me. But I digress.
Spain is like the US in regards to how things are administered. Less at the national level and more by the regional authorities. In the US, individual states have a great deal of autonomy. They are responsible for their populations, and things like the vaccine rollouts. They call it ‘States rights’. Spain is the same, and Galicia is ahead of most Spanish autonomous communities, other than Asturias, in the % of the population who has received at least one shot. 40% of Galicians have some form of coverage for Covid, as of yesterday. And 20% have gotten the full schedule. You can see it in the infection rates and ICU occupancies. The largest hospital in Lugo had zero admissions for Covid the other day. It didn’t last, but it is the first time since the pandemic began.
That number of 40% of the population having gotten a shot, and us not yet getting it, gave me pause. Since they have done all those over 60, it tells you how the age of the population skews. Much, much older. Galicia has an aging, declining population. And, in our area we see it. Melide and Palas de Rei are not towns filled with children. It’s mostly people over the age of 40, or even 50. One wonders what the future holds if this state doesn’t change. And it will not surprise you that it got me thinking about how it impacts other aspects of our lives.
Living in Valencia, there are young people every where. If you see old people, they are often with their grandchildren. But there are screaming kids, gathering teenagers, and partying 20 somethings out and about, all the time. Especially in our old neighbourhood of Benimachlet. It’s just the life there. And when you have young people, you have a future. The world will not end when you, yourself, are not long drawing breath on this planet. So, it stands to reason that you might care deeply about their future.
Valencia is the leader in Spanish recycling. In every fiesta there will be some sort of reference to recycling. Parades, dancing recycling cartoon characters. There are commercials on local Valencian tv during children’s cartoons. Leaders are focusing on children and getting the message to them early and often. On every block, there are bins for each category of waste, to separate what can be reused and renewed, from what is true garbage. There are even organic waste bins for composting by the city. and cooking oil recycling stations. We used them all, each and every day. And in future, Valencia is looking to do what provinces like Cataluña have already done, and they will bury them under the street with only a stainless steel rotating opening visible. The trucks that empty them will do so by lifting them out of the ground. This will make them less unsightly and help with smell and rodent control. Makes sense.
But, since moving to Galicia, we notice that this is not a focus, at all. In neither A Coruña nor Lugo provinces. Sure, we have a bin outside our gate for paper and cardboard. I now have to bring it inside the gate because, since the state of alarm ended, a flood of pilgrims have returned and I went out the other day to find it full of garbage and Coke bottles. Even though it says clearly that it is for ‘papel’. Ugh. Come on, Peregrinos. You’re better than this. But this small blue bin is hardly adequate after moving with all the boxes. So, I decided to head into Melide to find a cardboard recycling bin in which to put them. Should be easy enough. I drove down every street. Finally, I found one. Just one, for the entire town. What? Then I began noticing other things.
There are garbage bins everywhere on the street for residents to deposit trash. But, on many blocks, there was no recycling for plastic or glass. And none for organic waste. In the plastic recycling bin we saw, it was filled with trash. Jeff was appalled.
‘This is awful. It’s such a beautiful place and yet people here seem to recycle almost nothing. In Valencia, no one would stand for this.’
We have a small garbage bin down the road from our house where we deposit our trash. We pay our annual property taxes and it includes garbage pick up. But no community recycling bins for anything else. I asked the sellers about this and they seemed surprised that we even cared.
So, after reading about the vaccination numbers, and how the population skews so much older, and seeing how there are few young people to replace the older folks in our area, it made me wonder. Perhaps the reason they are not too focused on what life will be like in 20-30 years, is because they will likely not be here. And that means things like recycling, or a focus on climate change, or water scarcity are not top of mind.
I will allow that maybe I am missing something. Maybe the Concellos or the Xunta of Galicia have something else they are doing that we are unaware of. But the lack of young people is a concern. I just read that our age group represents 700,000 Galicans. That will take most of May to complete the vaccination of our group. And then, the 40-49 group is 500,000 and will be done in June. The Xunta feels that vaccinating the rest of the population from 17-39 will only take a month or so in July. That tells you just how few young adults there are here. Those whose future are in older people’s hands, today.
I guess I am channelling Concha today. I’m going to focus on the fact that we are days or a few weeks from getting some form of protection. But it is something to think about. And I am not the only one.